Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Site speed and Google search ranking

Although there are no secrets to make it to the top of Google’s page ranking mechanism, your site’s page speed can now contribute to it!
Websites are always meant for people, not bots. Visitors would love pages loading faster, and Google is in their favor! Earlier, Google’s ranking of results were based on the relevance of text on a webpage and how many other sites refer to it as a good source of information. Aspects like how fine tuned the web-pages are, and how well you organize and tag information, is still the key factor.

Despite the change, Google’s most important criteria for page ranking would be relevance of the page to the search terms used. And as per their inputs, only about 1% of search queries will be affected by the change to include page speed.

How to get a better Google Rank

First step is to analyze where you stand. Web analytics programs like Google Analytics are a valuable source of insight in knowing where you stand, in case you do not already have an analytics program.
  • Create clear, relevant page titles.
  • Use the “description” meta tag effectively, to reflect a summarized content.
  • Stick with Search Engine Friendly URL’s.
  • Use descriptive anchor text for internal and external links, rather than the “click here” links.
  • Use Heading tag to good use. Whenever your content could be grouped, separate headings would help.
  • Create proper site-map page.
  • Avoid content duplication.
Cater to the needs of your users - when they get what they want, they visit your site more often. And from now on, make your sites faster!

How to speed up your site

Website speeds are usually related to your server’s performance. Once you have the web-server fine tuned for performance, you can start looking at speeding up your web-pages.
  • HTTP compression- reducing the total size of the page.
  • Caching would help reduce the webserver’s overhead, and hence deliver improved performance.
  • Accelerators for script platforms add to increased performance.
  • Solutions such as load-balancing, and content delivery networks would prove beneficial as well.
  • Using efficient queries to databases wherever applicable, and optimizing the database design and DB server.

Impact of speed on rank

As per their official blog, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal implementation. Speed is just one among the 200 or more factors considered by Google for page ranks, though we cannot predict what weightage this new factor gets in the long run.
One thing is for sure, “choking the site with flash objects” is not the order of the hour any more!